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UFOology - what is its purpose

  1. Sep 2, 2004 #1

    russ_watters

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    I was going to talk about this in my other thread, but decided this is better for another thread. I said this: "and lets not mince words - we're talking about ETUFOs. Flying saucers. Alien spacecraft" and Ivan responded with:
    I'm not demanding anything: I'm talking about the point of the investigation: what are they looking for? Are they looking for aliens, looking to find new natural phenoma to explain? What?

    My point with my quote was that people who investigate UFOs, like people who run SETI, are looking for one thing: Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. That is the stated goal of SETI (its in the name), and it is my belief/opinion/judgement that that is the goal - stated or unstated - of "UFOology."

    Ivan, you've stated that the crackpots give real/reputable investigators a bad name, and I'd tend to agree, but I also think that investigators are afraid to come clean for fear of being labeled. That may seem reasonable, but consider this: it doesn't hurt SETI to have it in the name. That said, Stanton Friedman, who is apparently a prominent "UFOologist" (HERE is his site, linked from the other thread), calls his work "SETV" - the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Visitors. No doubt an homage to SETI, but in any case, I like the fact that he's willing to be blunt about his purpose.

    It is perfectly scientific to start with a hypothesis such as 'some UFO sightings are alien spacecraft' and then search for evidence to support that. Is anyone approaching the search this way? Project Blue Book, perhaps the most widely known open-ended investigation, had 3 goals:
    http://www.cyber-north.com/ufo/

    Now, this is an open-ended investigation that allowed for all possibilities, but clearly, the one that the study was most concerned with was ET (that is, of course, natural for the Air Force). The project was closed (lets leave the conspiracy theory out of this if we can, please), because it failed to turn up any useful technology or any evidence of a threat after many years of investigation.

    AFAIK, no one has ever launched a project-blue-book-style investigation looking for new natural phenomena. Perhaps someone can verify that. I guess how you could do that is to start grouping the events according to similar characteristics and looking for natural explanations. Has anyone done that?

    So, I guess my questions in this thread are:

    -What, precisely is UFOology? Is it more than just SETV?
    -Is there a coherent methodology at work in UFOology? Clear goals? Clear mission statements? Clear hypotheses?
    -Has it produced anything that an average scientist would consider compelling?
    -Has it ever explained previously unknown natural phenomena? Is anyone really looking?
    -And most importantly, are those who call themselves "UFOologists" really open to the possibility that no UFOs are alien spacecraft? If so, what are the critereon under which they would accept that conclusion as likely?
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2004
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  3. Sep 2, 2004 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Wow! Russ, have the aliens affected your mind? :biggrin:

    You seem to be on a bit of an ET kick here. Again, I am short on time and I want to give due consideration to your posts, but for now I wanted to post this information. This is one of the people whom I consider to be most credible in the world of Ufology.

    http://www.twbookmark.com/authors/91/1774/

    http://hbar.stanford.edu/sturrock/peter/

    http://www.nicap.dabsol.co.uk/bio-sturrock.htm

    Dr Sturrock recently announced that the journal Science has agreed to publish well penned papers that address the subject of UFOs.
     
  4. Sep 2, 2004 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    "The definitive resolution of the UFO enigma will not come about unless and until the problem is subjected to open and extensive scientific study by the normal procedures of established science. This requires a change in attitude primarily on the part of scientists and administrators in universities." (Sturrock, Peter A., Report on a Survey of the American Astronomical Society concerning the UFO Phenomenon, Stanford University Report SUIPR 68IR, 1977.)

    "Although... the scientific community has tended to minimize the significance of the UFO phenomenon, certain individual scientists have argued that the phenomenon is both real and significant. Such views have been presented in the Hearings of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics [and elsewhere]. It is also notable that one major national scientific society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, set up a subcommittee in 1967 to 'gain a fresh and objective perspective on the UFO phenomenon.'
    In their public statements (but not necessarily in their private statements), scientists express a generally negative attitude towards the UFO problem, and it is interesting to try to understand this attitude. Most scientists have never had the occasion to confront evidence concerning the UFO phenomenon. To a scientist, the main source of hard information (other than his own experiments' observations) is provided by the scientific journals. With rare exceptions, scientific journals do not publish reports of UFO observations. The decision not to publish is made by the editor acting on the advice of reviewers. This process is self-reinforcing: the apparent lack of data confirms the view that there is nothing to the UFO phenomenon, and this view works against the presentation of relevant data." (Sturrock, Peter A., "An Analysis of the Condon Report on the Colorado UFO Project," Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1987.)"

    -- Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, Professor of Space Science and Astrophysics and Deputy Director of the Center for Space Sciences and Astrophysics at Stanford University; Director of the Skylab Workshop on Solar Flares in 1977
     
  5. Sep 2, 2004 #4

    russ_watters

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    The attitude I was given in another thread got on my nerves. Sometimes "the establishment" needs to weigh in, lest the B.S. get too thick.
     
  6. Sep 2, 2004 #5

    russ_watters

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    His credentials are undeniable. So, would he consider himself a "UFOologist"? How, precisely does he think the scientific community should proceed? Does he have an hypothesis - a goal? Ie, what does he hope/expect/predict to find?
     
  7. Sep 2, 2004 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Before I comment on Dr Sturrock I will see if he has an official statement of some sort; more later. I'm still working on the other thread. :biggrin:
     
  8. Sep 3, 2004 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Here is one specific comment from his book.

    http://www.twbookmark.com/books/1/0446525650/chapter_excerpt8973.html
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2004
  9. Sep 4, 2004 #8
    The purpose of UFOlogy

    From my own investigations, I'd have to say that the definition of UFOlogy lies strictly in the mind of the UFOlogist. It's sort of like sports, or better still, religion. I have found no true common ground among many of the "researchers", as each firmly and totally believes in their own conclusions and vehemently denounces anything outside of that view. This has gotten to the point of name calling and character assassination, and logically, marginalized legitimate research and data assessment by persons who should be looking into this phenomena.

    If and when one looks at the enormous amount of good data that has been collected, and discards the Adamskis, the Lunarians, and others whose motives are not quite scientific, there emerges a pattern that bears some serious inquiry. Take away the anomalous lights, obvious atmospheric phenomena, misidentified terrestrial technology, and the hoaxes and jokesters, and what is left is quite mystifying.

    While I have never personally seen a UFO, my research shows that something is going on, and has been going on since long before Kenneth Arnold. UFO's are, or at least appear to be, intelligently designed, constructed and operated
    mechanical objects. They are "real" in the sense that they occupy 3 dimensional space and time, have mass (weight), reflect light, and are capable of being documented by independent (non-hallucinatory) machines.

    Despite the incredible number of reports, films, photos, etc., the origin, nature
    and purpose of UFO's remains unknown. Is there any other "mystery" that has been so chronicled over such a length of time, by so many good observers, that has not in some way been made clearer? How can anything this well documented still not give the slightest clue as to what it is?
     
  10. Sep 6, 2004 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Here is what Hynek had to say about it twenty years before Sturrock's comments.

    What Is The Responsibility Of The Scientist?
    The following is quoted by J. ALLEN HYNEK in the Foreword to CHALLENGE TO
    SCIENCE - UFO ENIGMA by Jacques Vallee, 1966:


    http://www.nicap.dabsol.co.uk/whatresp.htm

    -- Dr. J. Allen Hynek: Professor emeritus and chairman of the astronomy department at Northwestern University, Director of the Lundheimer Astronomical Research Center at Northwestern, Chief scientist for NASA's satellite tracking program, and for twenty years was the scientific consultant to the United States Air Force in the investigation of the UFO phenomenon.
     
  11. Sep 6, 2004 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    So, taking the lead from a couple of notable scientists, and if we ignore all conspiracy theories, it seems that we are still in the process of discovery. I think one of the problems with organization and defined goals is the lack of a credible forum [perceived as credible]. This is one issue that Dr. Sturrock has worked to resolve. Goals exist and research is done, but the line between credible, and not credible, is difficult to follow, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2004
  12. Sep 6, 2004 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Welcome Funkenstein.

    It sounds like you really got the bug. :biggrin: How long have you been at it? Also, why don't you start a thread listing your best evidence? You make some bold claims, do you have some good links or information?
     
  13. Sep 6, 2004 #12
    We find this phenomenon overstated by example in "crop-circles", another instance of hoax ascending to status of conspiracy theory and pseudo-science. Worse, we must do here as we do with unidentified flying objects, by sheer numbers of their apparent occurances suspend belief if we are to accept as "fact" that ALL sightings are explainable and fully undestandable by today's physics. Though NOT a mathematician it seems to me outside the realm of probability that ALL sightings ARE false or easily explained by today's sciences. Cattle mutilations, Nessie, Big-Foot, "abductions" all beg for common sense and reason in the shadow of the sheer numbers reported. This leaves a more probable UNreported database of even more "sightings" covering all areas..though it seems to me that UFOs are probably the most UNderreported of all strangeness in today's world.

    The human condition is such that history bears out in large part man's need to have super naturalness occuring in his world. When physicists and mathematicians establish as fact such phenomenae as Quantum mechanics, quantum and classical uncertainty no one really bats an eye... but god forbid that any of us should witness something that is clearly a technology beyond our current comprehension... ridicule and shame await any unfortunate soul who dares to OFFICIALLY ask the inevitable question: "...what the hell was that?"

    I love to resort to some sort of mental exercise in fantasy...something to the effect of this: somehow an SR-71 flies back in time while on a mission in the Middle East...running low on fuel, and confused by the sudden loss of all external telemetry (GPS, radio beacons, etc) the pilot finds a patch of desert and sets the bird down. He opens his cockpit hatch and in his silver astronaut's suit with helmet still on, he carefully deplanes onto the desert sand...there he is greeted by a half crazed man speaking some language he fails to recognize and bowing down in subjugation before him.... slowly it dawns on the pilot that he has gone back in time and in fact has landed in the Holy Lands, possibly near ancient Israel and this half crazed man is a local prophet he later learns is called, Ezekiel or whomever ....you get the idea... nice science fiction stuff.... anyway, the best minds of their day take it on themselves to investigate the inside of this eerie looking craft... nothing makes sense to them....they try to reverse engineer some of what they have dismantled and carted off for its gold.... nothing EVER makes sense to them...then of course, this story wouldn't be complete without an 8 point quake opening the ground and swallowing the ship and its pilot into a chasm deeper than the cavity in my back molar....

    I do get wordy, I know.... there is NO viable forum for SERIOUS or as others here have already said quite correctly, PERCEIVED AS SERIOUS discussions about UFOs.... out of the woodwork come the conspiracy theorists et al... before you know it, the really respected sight is overtaken by this sort of intellectually challenged pestilence.... still, I'm game to give it a try as a serious participant... splitting hairs to arrive at this definition of SERIOUS PARTICIPANT will in an of itself prove quite interesting... perhaps we could all just fall back on the cliche, "...we may not know art, but we know what we like?" I don't know...it's a sad testimony that in this country and outside of France, we can discuss Quantum Uncertainty all day and all night and no one gives a rip, but bring up "little green men" and most of us go into a Duck and Cover reaction...

    What can I do to help?
     
  14. Sep 8, 2004 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    It seems that for now, all the average person can do is to post quality information [here] when possible. This helps to get the good information out. Next, follow up on interesting stories if no one else does. Finally, forward any significant information to people who log this stuff.

    I have done this as a hobby for many years now. I certainly don't recommend taking it beyond that level unless you are independently wealthy or happen to be "in" with the Rockefellers. I also suggest keeping this to yourself. Next, many groups need money but this is a tough call even for a die hard like me. I could give a list of who I think is honest, but that wouldn't be appropriate here in this context.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2004
  15. Sep 10, 2004 #14

    russ_watters

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    This is my perception as well and part of the reason for starting this thread is to see if there is a coherent community of UFOologists with a coherent set of goals, methods, etc.

    Ivan, those are certainly interesting opinions, but I'm just not convinced that even if there is wheat, that its possible to separate it from the chaff. IMO, the "signal" as Hynkeck calls it is just not ever going to be found (if it even exists) - the signal to noise ratio is just too small.
     
  16. Sep 10, 2004 #15
    UFO's ... etc

     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2004
  17. Sep 14, 2004 #16

    Chronos

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    I don't think any real scientist would be afraid to stick his/her neck out providing they were offered just one simple thing: incontrovertable evidence. A genuine in-the-flesh UFOnaut, an alien artifact, even a crop circle formation leading to a working theory of quantum gravity might do the trick. SETI will not stain anyone's reputation, assuming they don't jump the gun, because incontrovertible evidence is precisely what they are looking for.
     
  18. Sep 14, 2004 #17
    SETI and UFOlogy do not have be considered synonymous. SETI at this time is perhaps the one and only way to explore for extrarrestial intelligence. UFOlogy attempts to put lightening in a bottle...something that unless one of these "things" lands and surrenders itself to someone, remains a mere curiosity. There is a local group of "esteemed scientists" that was put together by a local real estate developer...their purpose is to investigate and study "paranormal" occurances. The scientists I have met who served on this committee were indeed esteemed. The credibility of the scientists was never the problem though. The credibility of the team was. I wrote the founder of this group an email and asked if he had bothered to level the playing field by also inviting any of the numerous master magicians who live and Las Vegas to join... he never replied. The only impression about his "esteemed committee of scientists" is that they are being misled by a philanthropic zealot who does not want to know about slight of hand and other tomfoolery... he wants his "team" to study paranormal activity... so Dr. X I met over evening drinks one afternoon had this to say to me about his involvement on the committee, "Ghosts really do exist." I know that man's position in this city, and his reputation as a physician is actually quite excellent... I asked Dr. X who the visiting magacian on his committee was... he looked puzzled as I expected and retorted predictably with, "...what do you mean?"

    I asked him if he had ever heard of the Amazing James Randii. Dr. X said that he hadn't and asked why. When I explained that professional illusionists are brought into the picture they often debunk so-called paranormal activity that "scientists heretofor had declared as authentic. Also predictably, Dr. X became belligerent... PRIDE GOETH BEFORE THE FALL don't cha know.

    Bring along Penn & Teller or David Copperfield or any other well known illusionist and I might take such "teams" more seriously.
     
  19. Sep 14, 2004 #18

    russ_watters

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    I didn't mean to imply that I consider SETI and UFOology to be on the same level. I don't - its something Friedman has said (calling his search "SETV"). Undoubtably, he's trying to improve his credibility by association with SETI.

    Interesting proposal though - bring professional hoaxsters into the investigation to help identify hoaxes.
     
  20. Sep 14, 2004 #19

    Sorry, the error was actually mine. I was referring to anything any of you had said when I made the comment about SETI and UFOlogy... I started in one place and went off on a tangent. James Randii has made a career of debunking so-called paranormal activity. The last report about this is aged now, but probably is still current: he carries around with him a certified check in the amount of $1,000,000. All a person has to do is prove they have a "paranormal talent"... one of his most famous tests was done in England sometime within the last decade... he set up a controlled experiment for so-called dowzers.... real simple, come into my tent, and find buried water lines I had installed for this experiment. Condition of proof: find the water lines better than 50% of the time, thus outside of chance probability. Many came, many sported these really "impressive" resumes... NONE could find the water lines better than 50% of the time. Ah well....back to the witching sticks.... "-)

    The competition is open for ANYTHING that can be tested under controlled conditions...this is what keeps his check tattered and his bank account heavy. The hucksters abound here in Vegas. If I didn't have a conscience I'd set myself up as a psychic. LOL
     
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